Wire stripping tool: all about cable strippers

Vasily Borutsky
Checked by a specialist: Vasily Borutsky
Author: Oksana Chubukina
Last update: May 2019

In the arsenal of a professional electrician, there is always a tool for stripping wires, which is necessary for stripping wires when connecting sockets, switches, cutting wires, etc. Such a device will also be useful to the home master, who has started repairs in an apartment or house.

We will figure out what tools exist to remove the sheath from the wires, what are the specifics of their use and indicate what you should pay attention to when buying such devices.

The need for special tools

To connect one socket or switch in the apartment, it is not necessary to buy professional equipment. Strip a piece of wire will get an ordinary kitchen knife. However, if there is a large-scale repair with a complete upgrade of the wiring system, then specialized devices cannot be dispensed with.

The number of contacts to be cleaned during the repair of a house with an area of ​​100 square meters. m can reach thousands. To carry out such work without specialized devices is an unreasonable waste of time and energy.

In a modern room, the installation of many sockets, switches, installation of shields, junction boxes and lighting fixtures is required

In addition, stripping without professional wire stripping tools is fraught with negative consequences:

  • high risk of cable damage, which reduces the safety of electrical wiring;
  • an incision in the conductive core leads to a decrease in the cross section of the wire, as a result of which an open or burning occurs at the junction;
  • if not cut carefully, the damaged wire may break when bent.

In high-frequency systems with alternating current, the situation is complicated by the appearance of the skin effect - the current is distributed unevenly, and mainly in the surface layer of the conductor. In such wires, any most insignificant defect in the core can damage the equipment.

Cable stripping
With a knife, you can carefully clean the insulation, but the work will take a long time. And if you need to prepare a lot of cables, then mistakes are inevitable - to quickly perform a large number of high-precision cuts will not work

When it comes to significant amounts of work, it is better not to take risks and use special devices. Damage to the conductor can cause a fire, damage equipment or cause electric shock.

Types of wiring accessories

The variety of tools can be classified according to the following criteria:

The insulation shell can be removed in two ways: thermal and mechanical.

The first option is valid only for thin, low-power conductors used in communication devices, audio equipment and electronics operating at a voltage of about 5 volts.

Thermal method
Thermal exposure is suitable for one-time stripping of a small batch of conductors. To heat the insulation shell use: a lighter, a soldering iron, a heated thread of chromium

Professional methods are exclusively mechanical stripping. The work of tools is based on one of the principles of removing protective coating:

  1. Cutting. The tip cuts through the insulating layer in a circle, leaving current-carrying conductors without damage. After - part of the cut off coating is removed from the wire.
  2. The gap. The insulation is clamped and, with an effort, literally torn off the conductor.

Based on the estimated volume of work performed, all tools can be conditionally divided into two groups:

  • household;
  • professional.

Some include the electrician's knife to the first category. However, such a tool is always present in the arsenal of a professional. The knife is often used in everyday life due to its affordability and ease of use.

Electrician tools
Professional devices: pliers, tongs, pullers and strippers. To perform a small amount of work, pliers and side cutters are suitable

The most popular among electricians are strippers. There are three types of professional tools for quick cable stripping: manual, semi-automatic and automatic.

In addition to the general classification, devices may differ in purpose. If universal tools or appliances used exclusively for internet wire or electric cables. The diameter of the stripped wire may also vary, the range of values ​​is about 4-40 mm.

Nippers or pincers: nuances of application

A proven tool that acts on tearing. The principle of operation of the nippers is simple. Using the screw, the desired diameter of the wire is selected, then they wrap around the cable, scroll a little around and tighten the insulation coating.

Wire stripping pliers
When setting the pliers, select a wider width than the cable section. This will protect the conductor from scratches while removing the protective layer.

Expensive forceps are made with insulated stainless steel handles. Some ticks without tearing clean the thinnest wiring.

Among the additional advantages of nippers include:

  • reliability;
  • durability;
  • the ability to work in hard-to-reach areas;
  • conducting stripping on live wires.

Cons of wire cutters: the inability to choose the length of removal of the insulating layer, the need to constantly reconfigure the screw when stripping wires of different diameters.

Electrician's knife - a traditional fixture

A knife with a curved blade simplifies work and speeds up the stripping process. There are several varieties of such a device.

Features of use of the device

The electrician's knife is more suitable for stripping flat cables. Experienced craftsmen will easily remove insulation from round wires, but the usability will be less.

The removal of the protective sheath with a knife must be carried out with gloves in order to avoid injury. This is especially true when stripping a cable manufactured in accordance with GOST. The insulation thickness of such a conductor is much larger than that of the wire according to TU, and it is more closely adjacent to the cores, which complicates the work.

Electrician's knife
When stripping, the tool must be held at an acute angle with respect to the cable. If this rule is neglected, the risk of damage to the soft metal conductor is high

The braid is removed with light movements, cutting off the insulation from itself.

The main advantages of using knives:

  • affordable cost;
  • the presence of models with an insulated handle;
  • practicality - the knife is suitable for wires of different diameters.

The main disadvantage is the duration of the work. Stripping cables of large cross section is quite laborious. In addition, with little experience there is a risk of damage to the cores.

Variety of electrician knives

There are three options for electric knives. They differ in the shape of the blade and the type of tip.

Knife with a heel. Fixture with a short, concave inward wedge. A “heel” is brazed perpendicular to the blade, limiting the depth of cut.

Heel knife
This knife is great for preparing double-insulated wires when the upper protective layer must be removed and the lower one left intact.

The plow tool is best used for wires with hard conductors, the knife removes the soft girdle sheath worse.

Knife with a beak. Tool with a rounded blade. In such a knife, the bend is very smooth in contrast to the “heel”. The specific form of the wedge complicates the work, the device is often used by experienced craftsmen.

Beak knife
The beak-shaped tip is suitable for a circular cut of the shell. A longitudinal incision must be performed with extreme caution, as there is no limiter to the depth of cut

Knife with a hook. Such a tool is able to cross-section and longitudinally cut the cable. The wire is fixed on top with a bracket, and a sharp fang cuts through the insulation.

Hook knife
On the knife, you can set the depth of cut of the protective shell - for this an adjustment wheel is provided

This model is universal and suitable for processing most types of cables. The device is popular with professional electricians.

Assessment of the quality parameters of the tool

When choosing a knife for cleaning the insulating layer, it is necessary to be guided by a number of rules.

Primary requirements:

  1. It is better to use a knife with a small blade. The tool will be conveniently used in a limited space (cabinet, shield).
  2. The blade should be made of strong steel - such metal retains sharpness longer.
  3. It is better to choose a straight edge - this will simplify the cutting of wires with double insulation.

It is necessary to pay attention to the sharpening of the blade. It should not be too sharp, otherwise it is easy to get hurt when working.

Knife insulation cleaning
In addition, a sharpened tip can accidentally spoil the conductors of the cable being processed or neighboring wires

Some tools have an insulating handle. The maximum voltage indicator that the knife can withstand is indicated on the device itself.

Stripper - usability

The best and most popular wire stripper to simplify your workflow. Tools are represented by a wide range.

The principle of operation of different models

The mechanism of action is based on processing the cable with two movable knives having a semicircular shape. The cut gauge is adjusted to the cross section of the wire, guaranteeing the accuracy of the notch and the absence of damage to the metal core.

Three types of strippers are distinguished depending on the automation of the process:

  • mechanical;
  • semi-automatic;
  • auto.

Manual stripper. The insulation stripper has a simple design and is used to strip individual wires.

Manual stripper
Outwardly, the mechanical stripper is similar to pliers. On the inner surface of the clamps there are several holes with blades designed to cut the sheaths of wires of different sizes

Working with a manual stripper is straightforward. The general scheme of stripping:

  1. Determine the diameter of the wire.
  2. Select the appropriate hole on the lips of the device.
  3. Bite the cable by pressing the handles.
  4. Remove the braid from the wire by moving the stripper in a circle.

If you select a socket of a smaller diameter than the cross section of the wire, then there is a risk of damage to the core. When using a larger hole, the braid will not be removed.

Advantages of a manual stripper:

  • compact size and light weight;
  • the ability to compress the tip;
  • the presence of several clearances for the wires - usually up to seven with a range of values ​​of 0.25-2.5 mm.

Semi-automatic stripper. This option is more convenient for large volumes of work. The semi-automatic unit is equipped with a mechanism that does not require scrolling the stripper around the wire.

Semi-automatic stripper
It is enough to choose a cell for the diameter of the wire, adjust the length of the insulation cleaning and bite the cable. The stripper will cut the sheath and pull it off without damaging the conductor

Auto. The tool simplifies the work as much as possible. The user does not need to select the diameter of the wire section. The device has one socket, the size of which automatically adapts to the wired cable.

Stripper is suitable for stripping wires with a cross section of 0.2-6 mm.

Automatic stripper
Some models are equipped with an adjustment screw for adjusting the grip size for smaller wire diameters

Most automatic strippers have advanced functionality. In addition to the direct task, they are able to perform:

  • crimping tips;
  • trimming the ends of the wire;
  • twisting multicore cables.

An automatic stripper is able to strip single and double insulation wires. In one pass, the tool will remove only the upper shell. To remove the lower braid, the manipulations must be repeated.

Stripper Selection Options

Buying a tool is necessary based on the specifics of the activity. Before going to the store, you must compare the following criteria:

  • scope of application - professional or domestic;
  • scope of work - regular or periodic use;
  • tool skills
  • purchase budget.

For professional electricians, it is definitely better to choose semi-automatic or automatic devices designed to strip a large number of cables. The high price of devices is justified by the speed and convenience of work.

Internet cable stripper
A special stripper is provided for cleaning the television, Internet cable. It differs from the usual one by the presence of additional knives for subsequent installation of the F-connector

A home foreman can enrich his arsenal of tools with a manual stripper. If there are no skills in working with electrical wiring, then it is better to choose a semiautomatic device - the risk of notching the wires is minimized.

Preference should be given to trusted manufacturers, guaranteeing the safety of materials and the durability of the tool. It is better to refuse cheap models from low-quality alloys and with a plastic case.

More details on how to choose a stripper can be found in this stuff.

Alternative options: side cutters and pliers

Using some tools not for their intended purpose, it is quite possible to remove the insulation wrapper. Popular alternatives to professional tools: side cutters and pliers.

Side cutters. The device is designed for cutting small diameter wires, as well as for trimming plastic and metal elements during installation and repair work.

When using side cutters to clean the insulation, it is necessary to control the clamping force so as not to damage the core.

Side cutter stripping
Cutting edges should be directed in the opposite direction to the movement of the tool. The shell is carefully removed by a tube without injuring the conductor

For processing wires, pliers with precision holes of various diameters are suitable. Universal tool in demand for wiring.

Such pliers allow you to:

  • grab and bend the wire;
  • cut the wire of medium hardness;
  • crimping contact sleeves;
  • remove insulation.

The number of holes determines the functionality of the tool, usually the pliers are designed for processing wires of 3-6 sizes.

Stripping with pliers
The permissible parameters of the wire cross section are indicated on the handle, the standard range of values ​​is 0.5-3 sq. mm

Work with pliers carefully. If you do not calculate the force of the clamp, then you can easily damage the core.

The choice of stripping method for different wires

The complexity of stripping is largely determined by the type of wire. When choosing a tool, you should consider the features of the cable:

  1. Coaxial wire. When removing double insulation, work is carried out in two stages. The top layer can be removed thermally, and the bottom with a stripper. The cores of this cable are very fragile and thin, so they are easy to damage.
  2. PTFE cable. Heat-resistant insulation that can only be removed mechanically. An electrician's knife or stripper is suitable.
  3. Enameled wire. If the cross section is less than 0.2 square meters. mm, then we must resort to the thermochemical method using a soldering iron and vinyl chloride tape. The wire is put on a tape, a cable is held with a soldering iron - the released chlorine contributes to the "departure" of the enameled sheath from the wire.

When choosing a tool, it is necessary to consider what diameter of the wire the device is designed for, as well as the material for manufacturing the handle.

Stripper Stripping
The cable knife in terms of dimension is universal. But pliers, pincers, manual and semi-automatic strippers are limited by the capture range

If it is necessary to process electric cables, strippers with a handle of dielectric material must be selected.

The coating protects against voltage within 1000 watts.

Conclusions and useful video on the topic

A variety of tools for stripping wires and cables, comparison strippers:

The choice of a tool should be based on the upcoming conditions for its use, the need for additional functionality. The main thing is that the device ensures compliance with two main requirements: stripping insulation without damage to conductive conductors and in accordance with the declared dielectric characteristics.

If there are doubts regarding the second, then all work is carried out exclusively when the voltage is removed.

What wire stripping tools do you use? Please share your own experience with visitors to our site. Leave your comments in the box below. There you can ask questions about the topic of the article.

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Visitors Comments
  1. Andrey Ivanovich

    How many years I live, but all never cease to be surprised. How many different special tools that we never heard of.

  2. For those who work with an electrician to a minimum (for example, only minor repairs at home or in the country), practical advice: use a blunt knife to remove the insulation. He chlorinated vinyl anyway, but the chances of damaging the core are much less.This is especially true if you have old aluminum wiring in your house - aluminum in the place of the incision breaks down at a time.